Unlike the veggies lying in your refrigerator, figuring out when to toss your skincare products out is mostly a guessing game. The deal with a forgotten perfume or an abandoned anti-dandruff shampoo is different—they may not as be as effective any longer, but you certainly don’t run the risk of infection. The world of skincare formulas is a different beast altogether—not only is using an expired product considered gross but it can also be majorly troublesome for your skin.
Before we dig deeper into the shelf life of your coveted skincare arsenal, let’s go over a few basic rules, shall we?
Remember when you open the seal
Contrary to popular belief, the clock starts ticking when you open the seal of a product, and not when you pick it off the supermarket shelf. Exposure to air, humidity, sunlight and bacteria is what causes the active ingredients to break down.
What are the tell-tale signs?
Some of the easiest ways to tell that a formula is beyond salvage point is an obvious change in color, texture or smell. If the formula has started to separate, that’s an obvious red flag as well.
Beware of bacterial growth
Here’s a word of advice, invest in skincare formulas that are available in pump bottles or tubes, instead of jars that you need to scoop the product out from since they are a lot less likely to catch bacteria.
How potent is your product?
Products containing active ingredients (Ingredients infused in products that target specific skin concerns) that are unstable around oxygen require special attention. So, if you’re incorporating wonder chemicals like retinol, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin C or benzoyl peroxide into your routine, know that you’ll need to part ways in 3 – 6 months.
Here’s a cheat sheet on the amount of time that you should ideally be spending with your skin superstars.
If you’re someone who holds your SPF for many seasons, the estimated shelf life for your sunblock is around 2 years. That said, you need to remember not to expose it to the sun or keep it near the windows as exposure to heat can aggravate the breakdown rate of the active sunscreen agent. Just saying.
Your trusted tube of moisturiser could be a hotbed of bacteria so be careful of when you’re crossing the one-year mark. The formula should look and feel exactly how it did when you first opened the bottle. And yes, post expiry usage doesn’t just involve less hydration but a possible skin infection as well!
As suggested by dermatologists, these mighty drops don’t go bad with time but the active ingredients (the reason why you shelled out the extra cash) sure lose their potency once opened. Though the usual limit is a year, since serums usually come in opaque bottles with a dropper, the chances of contamination are minimal.
If you’ve already swapped your soap bars for bottled or tube cleansers, you’re on the right track. While shower gels last about 1 – 2 years, a creamy formula might begin to smell rancid earlier due to the presence of oils.